In an interactive workshop including small stuffed animals, Lego and PowerPoint illustrations, Grade 1, 2 and 3 students of École Steffie Woima School learned the basics of writing stories from a pro.
During a visit to the school earlier this month, Edmonton children’s author Marty Chan used his own work and Lego to teach students the concepts of following a beginning, middle and end sequence.
These tangible exercises are examples of how Chan said he reinforces concepts into young minds. He said he remembers being a “very visual kid”, and said that when someone was speaking to him on concepts, it would all just go right over his head.
That, he said, is why he breaks down writing process into something more tangible for students.
“If you’re in Grade 2, you’re thinking, ‘I don’t quite understand the concepts of beginning, middle and end,’ but when I pull the Lego out and show how one piece is boring, the second piece gives you a little more option and the third piece actually makes it fun, then they (understand). It’s something they can relate to.”
Chan is the author of 10 children’s books, and used his own work as an example so students could directly question the author on writing techniques.
“They see that what I am saying makes sense as they see that my book has been published,” Chan said. “I think having that authenticity with the kids helps them buy into the concept of writing more.”
Chan believes that writing is something anyone can do. That, he said, is the biggest message he wants students to take away from his workshops.
“When I go in and do a workshop, I try to make it as fun and interactive as possible,” he said. “Often times I will hear those stories where a parent or a teacher will tell me about a kid who’s a reluctant writer who they couldn’t drag three sentences out of the kid, and after my workshop that same reluctant writer is writing half a page or two pages.”